New online emergency system in place at some hospitals
WAGNER -- A new system that allows specialists in Sioux Falls to have immediate online access to patients in emergency rooms at eight hospitals across the state could revolutionize the future of medicine in rural areas, according to one administr...
WAGNER -- A new system that allows specialists in Sioux Falls to have immediate online access to patients in emergency rooms at eight hospitals across the state could revolutionize the future of medicine in rural areas, according to one administrator.
"You have the best opportunity to make the best positive outcome out of any situation," said Bryan Slaba, administrator of the Wagner Community Memorial Hospital-Avera in Wagner. "The possibilities are endless."
Slaba's hospital is one of three hospitals in the area to be connected to the eEmergency system, a program that allows rural hospitals to be connected to a hub site at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls. There, specialists are available to assist with patient treatment from long distances.
"It gives us immediate access to doctors or specialists," Slaba said. "It's a great opportunity of extending, enhancing and advancing the healthcare in the rural communities through telecommunication."
In the region, the system is also connected to St. Michael's Hospital-Avera, Tyndall, and Avera Gregory Healthcare Center in Gregory.
Other hospitals in the state involved in the pilot program include Marshall County Healthcare Center-Avera in Britton, Avera Dell Rapids Area Health Center, Avera Flandreau Medical Center, Milbank Area Hospital-Avera and Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital in Miller.
Slaba said it takes less than a minute for a specialist to be reached in Sioux Falls. Since the program went online Oct. 15, Wagner Community Memorial Hospital has used the system 15 times.
The system gives a specialist in Sioux Falls an opportunity to view real-time video of the patient along with monitored conditions. With a pair of earphones, specialists can even listen to a patient's heartbeat.
Ideally, the system will also afford patients a greater opportunity to receive treatment in the town they call home, as opposed to driving long distances to meet with specific specialists.
Slaba is pleased with the positive reactions the system has elicited from doctors, nurses and patients and he predicts the system's success could ultimately make recruiting doctors in rural areas an easier process.
He said some doctors are dissuaded from working in rural areas because of the long on-call hours often required or the lack of experienced doctors able to be consulted in emergency situations.
Slaba said the eEmergency system substantially sweetens the deal. By having access to specialists in Sioux Falls, young doctors can have their questions answered by experienced professionals, which Slaba said could lead to better patient treatment and less time spent in the hospital itself.
"When you have a younger doctor, they start worrying about those experiences when they need a specialist so then they turn around ... and they tend to drift away to a more clinic type atmosphere," Slaba said. "This is going to make them a little more comfortable in their job here and allow them to really make an impact on our community."